Puerto Rico: Conversation, Critique, Banter and Fun on the Net

One hundred forty characters were not enough. This is why a group of bloggers, social media savants, and pop culture junkies from Puerto Rico decided to expand the conversations they were having through Twitter.  On February 11, 2010, @eldifusor, @fetoso, @joeprog, @nerdote, @redod, @reed_rothchild and a “revolving cast of online friends, followers, and collaborators” recorded the first podcast of #EnProfundo [ES] (In-depth) which is now transmitted every week. They started talking mostly about tech issues and pop culture, but now they are also focusing on local political, social and media issues. The crew of #EnProfundo (@enprofundo) forged their friendships through Twitter. They take their online hobby pretty seriously, but they also have a lot of fun.

The #EnProfundo crew. Photo courtesy of #EnProfundo.

I interviewed them on behalf of Global Voices because they have one of the most innovative and creative online projects in Puerto Rico.

Global Voices (GV)- What motivated you to begin #EnProfundo?

#EnProfundo- @eldifusor: I remember the day the iPad was unveiled.  I had just parked to get some gas at the station and took my cellphone out to read my Twitter time line.  I read so many opinions about the device that I was eager to join the conversation, but I realized I had much more to say than those 140 characters where going to allow me.  I thought about writing a blog post about it, but then I realized that would only be me sharing my thoughts without having a real conversation with others.

Then it hit me: how about we get some bloggers and Twitter users together and start having that conversation out loud in person.  We could record that and share it with the world.  Mind you, this is not an original idea – podcasting was born out of this exact necessity.  There are even some older efforts here in Puerto Rico like “The Wannabes” podcast and the more recent “Fium TV X-Tracto Semanal” video podcast.  But those came out before Twitter had such a firm grasp on our lives, and I thought that making this podcast a direct response to the weekly Twitter banter could give us a nice foundation to build upon.

So I called @redod up and told him what I had in mind.  He loved the idea, so the next week we had our first meeting.  Now that I say this, it is funny this whole thing started with a piece of tech news that was being discussed on Twitter, since we now tackle more “serious” news.  That evolution happened organically, because since our very first meeting it was clear we all wanted to express ourselves about many other things besides technology.

GV-  What issues do you cover in your podcasts?

#EnProfundo- @redod: Local issues quickly established themselves as our focus, especially as filtered through the local ‘traditional’ media outlets.  #EnProfundo, we found, could function as both group think and group therapy.  Together we could talk about the gossipy news that dominate media cycles, the poor coverage given to social issues, the current administration’s attempts at… I don’t know what it is that they are supposed to be doing.  The strike organized by the University of Puerto Rico’s students was definitely the catalyst for this change.  If people were willing to listen to us get things off our chest and give our impressions on what we’re fed daily as Puerto Ricans living on the Island, then even better – and I think our followers want us to tackle those issues more so than the tech/pop-culture stuff we started off covering.

We do try to keeps things light and off-beat as much as possible, if the topic allows for it (which is probably most of the time).  Exploring local Internet memes is as much a past time for #EnProfundo-ers as reading up on more serious topics – and we’ve had our share of fun discussing those.  So if you listen to our most recent podcast, you’ll probably find a mix of all the topics I’ve mentioned here.  In the end its just the six of us, with our friends, talking about stuff that piqued our interest during the week.  The podcast is always evolving and the loose nature of it allows for that.

GV- How has #EnProfundo been received by the Internet audiences? Have you received feedback? What kind of feedback?

#EnProfundo- @eldifusor: For a podcast that is rather long and full of strong opinions about so many subjects, I am surprised we have an audience at all.  I always thought that our listeners where basically going to be our closest friends and ourselves, but thankfully that has not been the case.

Although this effort is something we do mostly for ourselves, we like reading and listening to what our audience is thinking.  And the feedback we have received has been both helpful and positive.  Come to think of it, we have yet to see a single “negative” comment about the podcast… so if someone out there really hates #EnPRofundo, or even better, has a nice solid critique for us: Please let us have it!

We enjoy being able to maintain a constant conversation that echos through our social media accounts, gives shape to our podcast, and then goes back into the Internet for further discussion until our next podcast. The day we feel that conversation is no longer worth having, we’ll stop recording our podcast.

GV- I have noticed you also include sharp critiques of mainstream media in Puerto Rico, specifically of newspapers. Why? How would you describe the journalistic work of the mainstream media in Puerto Rico?

#EnProfundo- @redod: On July 18, 2010 tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans dissatisfied with the current government’s policies took to the streets in an organized, peaceful march through one of the island’s busiest streets.  It was my first time participating in such a manifestation but recent examples of police brutality that had been vividly captured by both the traditional media and citizen journalists had made it impossible for me to stay home.  I needed to go out and be around other people who weren’t happy with what we had seen on our computers and television sets. And it was an amazing experience.  Thousands of people – tens of thousands – walking together, taking a stand.  It really lifted my spirits -though I am not at all crazy about hanging around big crowds.

But the island’s largest newspaper, in an act so blatantly complicit with the current government that it was as subtle as a sucker punch, barely paid attention to such a significant event.  In the little coverage it gave the event, it misrepresented the turnout by using the phrases ‘dozens of people’ or ‘hundreds of people’ to describe it.   Another of the island’s newspapers published a picture of the crowds on its cover, claiming 60,000 people had made their way to the event.  My friends and I put the number closer to 20,000 but you can take a look at the photographs online and make your best ‘guesstimate’ – at any rate, the turnout was much larger than that reported by Puerto Rico’s largest and most established newspaper, which didn’t bother to cover the event properly.  The question that lingers is: Why?

What they do publish are ‘dozens’ of articles on local ‘celebrities’ like Maripily (don’t even bother) and her failed relationship and upcoming divorce to former Major League Baseball All-Star Roberto Alomar.  That or stories about a drug kingpin’s leaked porno tapes.  They have lost all credibility.  And you are just a couple of google searches away from verifying that claim.

@eldifusor: At least for me, it is inevitable to talk about the poor handling of news in Puerto Rico.  It is sad that thirty years ago our news media was able to uncover a government conspiracy as big as the Cerro Maravilla murders and today they are not able to properly spell a foreign celebrity’s name correctly.  It is shameful, and I think, very dangerous.  We know this is not a phenomenon exclusive to our island, as news become more of a business than a public service, we suffer more and more as citizens.  It is also a shame we have at least two universities with communications departments – both offering master degrees – and it seems we are not capable of producing good communicators.

I am aware of the great financial struggles that result in the poor environments where our journalists are working – and we do appreciate when they do get it right – but the whole situation is such a mess, that I for one NEED to talk about it.  And I think this need has resonated with every member of our group. People know when they read a good story and when they read a bad story.  We just don’t have many places where we can have that conversation.  And it is a necessary conversation, specially here in Puerto Rico where we tend to be very lenient thanks to what we call the “Ay Bendito.”

That is why we are passionate about discussing how the media treats the news.  Puerto Rico is lacking on media watchdog groups and media critique in general.  I hope that our weekly banter helps people understand they also should be speaking up and discussing how relevant is the information these media outlets are choosing for us to consume.  Do we really want to know more about some forgotten TV personality before understanding why our government insists on pushing their new energy plan? A few journalists are fighting the good fight, but a lot of them just relinquished and called it quits. They are oblivious to the rich potential of the DIY culture.  That spirit that makes a blogger blog, a podcaster record a podcast – it’s a powerful thing.  I think journalists have the potential to become much more if they’d harness that spirit, but they are tied to old concepts and to the lure of working at a corporate news organization.

But these corporate news organizations are led by marketing ‘wizards’ that think they understand the web and rush to participate in new trends without really understanding what they want out of those tools or what those new tools are even for.  In their haste for headlines they also help create a technology divide, propagated by their journalists, that is based on outdated perceptions of how information is handled.  Just look at how many stories detail the hazards found on the Internet, of how bloggers are not journalists, of how they are a threat to reporting ‘real’ information.  They completely miss the point and end up not only alienating a new audience but putting in danger what is surely their new platform.

We need more initiatives like the one Oscar Serrano is leading at the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo.  More non-profit news organizations with journalists that are not afraid of exploring new ways of getting their stories out into the public.

GV- How would you describe the Puerto Rican blogosphere and social media sphere?

#EnProfundo- @redod: I think it’s attracting more and more people each day – largely due to the role social networks play in our lives nowadays.  Twitter and Facebook make it infinitely easier for a blogger to reach out to more people – starting out with his or her friends.  These networks provide a bigger pool of participants that read, comment on, and share the work being done by local bloggers, which in turn, inspires more and more people to start their own blog. This cycle promotes creativity, and hopefully more thinking and better writing.

A lot of creative, incisive stuff is coming from the blogosphere nowadays, while increasingly weak journalism, mediocre local television programming, and less than credible reporting during recent high-profile events only help fuel this movement.  However, for it to grow, I believe it must become more organized and perhaps… less personal.  And by less personal I don’t mean that bloggers excise their personalities and experience from their posts, but that they think of their blogs less like a journal and more like a living room.  If you are inviting people in to spend time with you, you need to be interesting and able to share your thoughts coherently on your particular areas of interest and expertise.

A healthier blogosphere will result from those bloggers that know what they can bring to the table as writers, as thinkers, as individuals, as citizen journalists, and as professionals; those who are confident enough to realize that they are as capable – and oftentimes better prepared – than those getting paid to write and communicate our news. As these bloggers start to collaborate and come together, traditional media stand to lose even more ground in their battle for our attention and trust.


  • digna rivera

    Great interview and our reality well described

  • Alanis

    Pardon my lousy English…
    I’ve a question for Firuzeh: Have you heard all the podcasts these people really offer? If so, it amazes me that its considered “one of the most innovative and creative online projects in Puerto Rico.” It is not the first nor the most creative. Other people have done this kind of project before and I must say: BETTER! I would like to post their websites but these kind of people can be easily offended.

    In my humble opinion and writing in the same English these people answered, you know, the one that can be easily translated word by word to Spanish, I must say: search further. The recording quality is so bad that I couldn’t get far enough to tell if the podcast is interesting! Oh, and everybody talking at the same time is not what I want to listen in a podcast that, gosh, it’s too long!

    En Profundo is not the podcast that represents what most people think about Puerto Rico, that’s for sure. En Profundo it’s just what you let us know in this article, a bunch of guys that just wanted to be heard. That’s all!

    And yes, Puerto Rico is crazy sometimes but it is not the same to critizice the government or some Maripili issues because that is what we are used to listen! that is why you have to be different! Your “duty” is to critizice, analize and evaluate. But all I’ve heard from En Profundo its a podcast about internal jokes. Mano, eso no era!

    Have a nice day!
    P.S. I hope this comment gets published :)

    • Hi Alanis, thank you very much for your feedback. Yes, definitely, it is a matter of opinion. I think #EnProfundo is a very interesting project worth covering. Please send me those links! I would very much like to hear other podcasts done in Puerto Rico!

      • Alanis

        You are very welcome! I like the way you write and I follow your collaborations, you’re an excellent writer. But when I read about this interview it surprised me because I really don’t think #EnProfundo is the best we (meaning the people of my island) can offer to the world. And aloud me to paraphrase that I do believe this project is very interesting because not many people have the opportunity to record their thoughts! That is why and I quote: “it must become more organized and perhaps… less personal.” Their personal jokes are killing their project and it will never gain more public unless they change their podcast for good. So the word creative is not quite adequate to describe them. Maybe they can stay with the innovative one! :)

        If they criticize mediocrity they must evade mediocrity. We are tired of the same things over and over again. It is not fair to bring more of it over the internet as well. Maybe this article will help them for better.


        »Please take notice of these other people who really are creative:

        • Did you know that some of the people of #EnProfundo are also in frequencias alternas and kittykittydinasour?

          More importantly…. did you know that Poder5 and AlgaroPR, those two *brilliant* examples that you provide, are really awful?

          You have an opinion… well, here is mine. #EnProfundo FTW!

          • Alanis

            Yes Mr. Rios, I know that some of the people of #EnProfundo are also in Frecuencias Alternas and Kitty Kitty Dinosaur. And that is my point exactly. I really think that those projects are way too better than them in terms of the quality, not to mention that if they are all friends, they all should work together for a higher standard at all times, doesn’t you think? But then again, as you say, that is just my opinion about it.

            And if you think that Poder5 and AlgaroPR are “awful”, then again is your opinion Mr. Rios! It’s not about if its more important or not, that is overrated. Mr. Redod is aware that he needs to make some changes on his project for them to have the success they really deserve. Until then, I’ll stick to my opinion.

            Have a great day!

        • I must say I am not surprised at all that #EnProfundo was recognized as one of the best Puerto Rican podcasts. Regardless of how “fresh” the concept of “some number of people talking about current events” is for a podcast, or how immaculate their recording technique is, I find their content interesting and even educational.

          I respect how they take the time to not only talk about a subject, but also explain what it is they’re talking about for the benefit of any listener who may not have the full background — I at least have learned a great deal about many different subjects thanks to #EnProfundo. Its members are both knowledgeable and clever, a combination that is unfortunately seldom seen in entertainers on the Island’s mainstream media.

          It is true that sometimes the number of participants can get unwieldy, and makes it hard for them not to talk over each other, but I know for a fact this is something they are aware of and are consciously trying to improve on.

          I have been lucky enough to be able to be a participant on a couple of their episodes, and if I didn’t talk too much (which I didn’t) wasn’t because they wouldn’t let me talk, but rather because a) I was caught up in what they were saying and went into “spectator mode”; and b) I didn’t feel I had anything smarter or funnier to contribute, so why talk? The few times I did try to interject something, @eldifusor was always there to make sure I had a chance to be heard, and frankly I don’t know what else a guest of the program could ask for.

          Finally, I think it’s great you listed some other Puerto Rican podcasts: one of the benefits of the Internet is that one need not choose one source of information over another: you can listen to all of them if you want! :-)

    • Alanis,

      You are correct in saying #EnProfundo is not the first nor the most creative podcast (or online project) from Puerto Rico. We’ve never made that claim (nor the author of this post). In fact, in this very interview @eldifusor says “…this is not an original idea – podcasting was born out of this exact necessity. There are even some older efforts here in Puerto Rico like “The Wannabes” podcast and the more recent “Fium TV X-Tracto Semanal” video podcast.”

      You also write: “En Profundo is not the podcast that represents what most people think about Puerto Rico, that’s for sure. En Profundo it’s just what you let us know in this article, a bunch of guys that just wanted to be heard. That’s all!” And I think you are correct again in stating this as well – we’ve never made the claim that #EnProfundo represents what most people think (we dedicate much of the podcast to criticizing ‘mainstream’ opinions) and we are all comfortable with the podcast being described as “a bunch of guys that just wanted to be heard” (in fact, we do it ourselves in this very interview – I hope you read it!).

      As to the recording quality, we know it varies depending on where we record, but you can count on us upgrading our equipment if necessary to make the podcast easier to listen to in the future. We are also working on getting better at not talking over each other or at the same time – if you compare the first episodes to the last one we recorded, I’m sure you’ll find we’ve improved as we ‘learn the ropes’ of podcasting. Remember this is our first group effort and we met each other just a few months ago (we still enjoy shouting over each other, especially when alcohol is involved).

      In keeping with the spirit of your comment, I have some questions for you as well:

      Why criticize Firuzeh’s opinion of the podcast if you “couldn’t get far enough to tell if the podcast is interesting”?

      Why criticize our English if you, by your own admission, can’t express yourself correctly in said language (you did say it was ‘lousy’)?

      Why not offer better examples of what we are doing, so we can learn from those? Why do you think “these kind of people can be easily offended”?

      Gods bless the Internet.

      • Alanis

        For starters, if I’ve not read the interview I wouldn’t dare to comment. I respect all kinds of people over the internet. If I’m not seeing wrong, I wrote that “it amazes me that its considered “one of the most innovative and creative online projects in Puerto Rico.” I’m just saying that it amazes me. I am very aware that neither you or Firuzeh are claiming anything regarding #EnProfundo. This is the greatest things I admire from her, that she is neutral in all her collaborations to Global Voices. So please don’t misunderstand my opinion.

        Also, if you read carefully my next comment, I explained what I meant.

        Second of all, I DID NOT criticized her opinion about #EnProfundo! I wrote and I quote her: (so you don’t have to go back and read again) “However, for it to grow, I believe it must become more organized and perhaps… less personal.” I totally agree with her! I wasn’t criticizing her.

        Anyways, if you listen to other podcasts, meaning podcasts from other countries, you’ll notice that on the first 6 minutes you have to catch the audience, if you can’t do that, the people will not find it interesting. But then again, that is what I know. Maybe I am wrong…but I doubt it.

        And about the examples… well, I thought I already made comments about talking at the same time and the poor recording quality you guys are dealing with but if you think those are not examples, please explain what you meant by “better examples” (you see, easily offended indeed!) because if those aren’t enough for you then I promise I’ll listen to your next podcast and I’ll let you know ;)

        By the way, about the English thingy, I was joking, you know, my internal joke :P

        Have a nice day!

        • Alanis,

          I really do appreciate your input. I am not offended at all by what you are writing. Please take my word for it. In our interview above, you can see we welcome critique – this is our hobby and we want to make an even better program for ourselves (and maybe even more people who’ll like to join in on our conversations).

          But I think you’ve misread some stuff in our interview. For example, you’ve just quoted me in your comment above but think you are quoting Firuzeh and agreeing with her. I am the one who said “However, for it to grow, I believe it must become more organized and perhaps… less personal.” That is part of my answer to Firuzeh’s last question, so in fact, you are agreeing with my opinion of Puerto Rico’s blogosphere (#EnProfundo included).

          Also, you must be aware that in your first comment you clearly ARE criticizing Firuzeh’s opinion of #EnPRofundo. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would argue against that claim. Firuzeh was not neutral in her statements as she has written she finds #EnPRofundo to be “one of the most innovative and creative online projects in Puerto Rico.” That is not a neutral statement.

          It is great to hear your recommendations on other projects from Puerto Rico you’ve recommended us, since several involve people from our same circle of friends – even the #EnPRofundo podcast.

          For example, Frecuencias Alternas is a project run by both @eldifusor and @joeprog from #EnPRofundo (you can check out http://www.enprofundo.com to look at our links to that project).

          Kitty Kitty Dinosaur is our ‘sister’ podcast. They used the very same recording equipment we use – literally the same recorder, since @eldifusor is the one recording both Kitty Kitty and #EnPRofundo. We’ve recorded ‘cross-over’ podcasts with them and you can also hear some of their members in #EnProfundo 18: Podcast de Pueblo.

          Algaro Puerto Rico are friends of our project (you can see links to both #EnPRofundo and my blog, PuertoRicoIndie.com on their site). @reed_rothchild from #EnPRofundo recently interviewed Carlos Ambert for Puerto Rico Indie. Carlos Ambert has also contributed some of his writing to Puerto Rico Indie.

          So, as you can see – we are not far off from the projects you’ve listed as examples to follow. You’ve probably liked some of our work without knowing it :-)

          • Alanis

            OK, maybe I misread, I gave you that one. But the thing here is that I gave my opinion about what I think you need to change or polish (as Joseph also recommended!!) I know that you have a circle of friends that are the same people you work with because I am a fan of Kitty Kitty Dinosaur! (a podcast about nothing, really? I don’t think so!!) And there is the missing link, why oh why, if the recorder is the same, as you assure, the quality is way better than yours? why they keep track of a topic? why if the people you work with, who are on the same project are way much better than yours if yours is part of them? why they respect each other when they’re recording? (and I mean the continuous interruptions)

            Isn’t it supposed to excel as the rest? And I am not saying that yours is not good, it’s just that it needs some “repairs”. If you know what I mean, and I truly believe you do :)

            And maybe I shouldn’t include Frecuencias Alternas as well because that is a Radio Show –which amazes me more that it is a project of yours too because of the quality — but anyways…Kitty, Algaro, Poder 5! I mean, it’s clear that they stick to a script. They take turns, they respect the audience and their fellow guests.

            All I say Mr. Redod, is that if you want to have an audience to listen what you have to say, even if you’re using a unique and bizarre style, you need too stick to the point and respect what you say. Many people around the world is listening to what you have to say and if you can’t even understand a word because of the lack of discipline, well then I really don’t know what else to tell you about it. That’s it.

            Oh, oh, oh! and before I go, this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop listening #EnProfundo, I don’t have much faith in people (nor in endi.com) but your projects are from my beautiful island and you represent our people. So please don’t fail on something so simple to change.

            The internet is a powerful tool, use it wisely!

            Nice talking to you again Mr. Redod, you have my respects.

          • Yes, the important thing is that you’ve given us your opinion and that I’ve understood what you were trying to say. Thank you for taking the time to listen to all of those projects and I hope you tune in for our next podcast so you can tell us if it sounds any better (although if you’ve yet to listen to #25, I’d urge you to do so and leave us a comment on the site).

        • Joseph

          I would like to point out Frecuencias Alternas is a Radio show, not a podcast as far as I know. Also the hosts of said show are also part of the #EnProfundo crew. Kitty Kitty Dinosaur has basically the same concept of #EnProfundo but the crew is mostly compromised of females. I havent listened to the other links you provided in your other comment since Im not really much of a fan of podcasts.

          Now about #EnProfundo. I agree that the production needs some polish and needs to be a bit more organized but I don’t really mind if it stays the way it is. It certainly has its how charm and I thinks thats what people like me that download and listen to it weekly like. I haven’t heard any of the older episodes I started listening from 16 onwards but got hooked instantly. Most of their jokes are internal but if you follow them on Twitter (and others that contribute to them) you get them really fast and get to have quite a laugh.

          I hope it gets better with time and doesn’t die like a lot of other projects that start and end all of a sudden because they cant handle the pressure from listeners that keep comparing them to podcasts or shows that have been around for years. I for one will not stop listening to them anytime sooner.

  • As a kitty kitty dinosaur voice you saying that we’re better than #enprofundo flatters me cuz they’re our brothers and brother’s can be annoying :) The dynamics are different between the projects but the recorder is the same so I guess we suck in that part too. If you listen to us (KKD) you can really notice that I talk in both of them, produce a segment in the frecuencias alternas website (música realenga, a blogotheque like project) and we as a crew don’t expect to be greater nor original. But, is actually nice that people do listen to us and doesn’t hesitate to critique our work :) I want to use this space to invite you to KKD as a guest sometime. You can sent me your info to amarilys@frecuenciasalternas.com or DM me on twitter (funkyfresh_ah).

  • Alanis, thanks for the links. I already was very familiar with the work of poder5 and Frecuencias Alternas.

    I think this has become a great conversation. Precisely, the Internet lets us engage in this dialogue that otherwise would be very difficult to have. I, for one, have learned a lot from all of you. ¡Gracias a todos por sus comentarios y que la conversación continúe!

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